Mr. Belvedere – Michigan’s Greatest TV Pitchman
Michigan has had more than its share of TV pitchmen. The best ones are not actors. Nope, the best ones are done by the business owners themselves, because they are NOT actors. That’s what makes ‘em so fun to watch!
They trip over their lines, mispronounce words, stumble, stutter, have no expression…yet they love being on TV and we love watching their flubs!
Every major Michigan city has their own local pitchmen: Lansing, Traverse City, Kalamazoo, Marquette, Jackson, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor…but many of the most memorable ones came out of the Detroit area.
I have a list of my favorite Michigan Non-Actor Pitchmen that I have watched and enjoyed over the decades…..and I will list them all in the future. But for now, I’m starting with the one that has to be #1 on every Michiganders’ list…..MR. BELVEDERE!
His name was not “Belvedere” --- that was the name of the company. His name was Maurice Lezell, whose TV commercials were so campy that we loved ‘em.
He would deadpan into the camera and deliver his lines stiffly, but with emphasis. “We-do-good-work!” was his trademark line. Another phrase he became unintentionally famous for was uttered when Conrad Patrick appeared in commercials with him: “Conrad, I’m not happy”…and he always had that sad basset-hound droopy look on his face, like he was NEVER happy. You NEVER saw Mr. Belvedere smile!
His other trademark lines were “you’ll look at it, love it, and take your time paying for it” and “have no fear with Belvedere”.
Maurice “Mr. Belvedere” Lezell was born in Detroit, entered the University of Michigan after World War II and started his successful career by selling aluminum siding.
Mr. Lezell was not an actor by any means…and that’s why we loved him AND his commercials. While living in Sarasota, Florida, he passed away from pneumonia in March 2017 at the age of 95.